Stephen Fox, the director of Hemel Hempstead-based S J Stoddart Limited, has been disqualified from acting as a director for a period of 11 years for misappropriating company funds of at least ?273,774.

An investigation by the Insolvency Service found Mr Fox caused payments to be made from company accounts to his own personal account in the period from 8 October 2014 to 5 August 2015. Mr Fox concealed what he had done by giving the transactions false descriptions to be shown in the company?s bank statements.

Mr Fox was a director from January 1996 until he resigned on 10 August 2015. The company went into liquidation on 24 August 2015 with an estimated deficiency of ?81,547.

On 17 November 2016, the Secretary of State accepted a Disqualification Undertaking from Mr Fox, effective from 8 December 2016, for a period of 11 years.

On 5 September 2016, Mr Fox pleaded guilty to a charge of theft at Luton Crown Court.

Commenting on the disqualification, Sue MacLeod, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

Mr Fox misappropriated company funds, causing detriment to the company and its creditors, to his own personal benefit.

Company directors should note from this enforcement result that actions of this kind will lead to serious censure.

This disqualification is a reminder to others tempted to do the same that the Insolvency Service will rigorously pursue enforcement action and seek to remove from them the privilege of trading with limited liability to protect the public for a lengthy period.